Rock surface mosaic photo survey

© 2014 г. I. Yu. Georgievsky
Karelian scientific center of the RAS, Petrozavodsk

Summary. The study proves the need for making and later using of ancient rock image mosaic flat panoramic photos in order to monitor rock surfaces condition and to promote the monument. The study contains the description of the technics the photographer dealing with that flat panoramic photos uses and some results of his work carried out on horizontal rock surfaces of the Onega and Belomorsk petroglyph sites (Republic of Karelia).

Key words: petroglyphs, Karelia, mosaic photo survey, panorama merge, flat panorama.

Currently, Karelian petroglyphs are found in two areas.Belomorsk petroglyphs (Besovy Sledky, some groups of islands called Erpin Pudas, Zalavruga, Zolotets-I and some nameless islands) are located on some islands belonging to the Vyg River estuary. Onega petroglyphs (Guriy Islands, Besov Nos. Perin Nos, Kochkovnavolok and others) (see Lobanova, 2014) are located on the Onega Lake eastern lakeside headlands and on three islands located in the contiguous waters.

In the early 21 st century all the monuments were considered to be registered and documented. All the materials on the petroglyphs became available for scientists dealing with that field of science and researchers were only supposed to make semantic interpretation of the engraving motifs. No one expected an increase in the number of petroglyphs then. Nevertheless, new surveys of rock surfaces using the black film method (N. V. Lobanova) (Lobanova, 2005, 2007, 2010) which supposes exploring them using a sector-specific grazing beam of light allowed discovering of a great number of petroglyphs, scenes and image groups unknown before.

Putting those newly discovered engravings into the register involved some data improvement. Sometimes it was required to make a detailed revision of the whole material available, provided by previous researchers. At the same time, newly found petroglyph sites needed new schematic layout.

Considering computer technology progress and challenges, introduced by the era of digital photography to contemporary science, it is required to focus on such an exploration resource as photography.

The role it plays in cultural heritage documentation, evaluation and promotion is widely recognized.

Even though photography teeters on the edge of such three pillars as actuality, author’s reality and physical aberrancies, it can be used as a precision measuring instrument.

In 2006, in order to provide horizontal photo-control of engravings discovered in Old Zalavruga area we tried out photogoniometric method to make a plan of the rock surface of 11×15 meters.

After making a mosaic composition of 523 photos a final photo of the area covered with petroglyphs become available.It allowed illustrating the proportion of newly discovered and already known engravings in detail.

From 2005 to 2014, taking pictures of Onega and Belomorsk petroglyphs, the author developed a practical algorithm for making flat panoramas of rock surfaces containing ancient engravings.It made possible taking area photo survey of three tens of petroglyphs with a given accuracy. In addition, the file contained accurate schemes of crevasses, glacial scars, pot holes and lichen layer created using draughtsmanship. The schemes are available as a separate plan (see the picture), if necessary.

Technological stages include location photography which supposes the rock marking-out, taking pictures of the rock surfaces and image processing. That process supposes the file consecutive numeration along the lines, picture conversion with the highest possible adherence of the color and hue constants in separate photos, panorama merge and adjusting of the final file.

Location photography takes about a few hours and does not require any special survey stores. The second stage supposes the availability of an up-to-date computer which has RW memory of 4–16 GWT and package software featuring appropriate Adobe programs such as Lightroom and Photoshop. Some of the mosaic panoramas printed as panel photos of 2.5×19.5 meters are kept in the archeology hall of the National Museum of the Republic of Karelia. A great number of panorama merges are found in some field reports and have been used in desk-top publishing and are available on some websites.

Information on the author

Name: Georgievsky Igor Yurevich
Place: Petrozavodsk

Institution: Karelian scientific center of the RAS
Position, science degree, rank: photographer, PPD (printing and publication department)
Post address: Pushkinskaya St., 6, Petrozavodsk, 650043
Tel. (with code): +7 (814–2) 58-43-18
Fax. (with code): +7 (814–2) 58-38-85